It’s the year of the woman in New Hampshire.
Women will hold both U.S. Senate seats and the state’s two U.S. House seats when the 113th Congress convenes in January. That makes the Granite State the first in the country to have an all-female delegation. (Okay, that’s probably an easier accomplishment when the state has just two House districts instead of, say, California, with 53. It’s still a female victory – or monopoly – and it’s about time.)
But wait, there’s more. New Hampshire voters also elected a female governor Tuesday night, for the second time in its history, when Democrat Maggie Hassan won.
Democrats Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster are the state’s two congresswomen. They will join Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D), elected in 2008, and Kelly Ayotte (R), elected in 2010, on the Hill in January.
Shea-Porter is no newcomer to Congress; she was the first woman elected to the House from New Hampshire in 2006. But she lost her 1st Congressional District seat two years ago to Republican Frank Guinta, whom she beat last night in a tight race that went past midnight. CNN declared Shea-Porter the winner at 1 a.m., and Guinta’s campaign issued a concession statement congratulating Shea-Porter at 3 a.m.
Shea-Porter received 143,681 votes to Guinta’s 138,219, according to the Manchester Union. She won in Ward 1, Guinta’s own neighborhood, by 248 votes.
In the 2nd Congressional District, Kuster also beat a Republican incumbent, Rep. Charles F. Bass, 52 percent to 44 percent. It was the second time they had battled it out for the seat; two years ago, Bass won by just 1.6 points.
Former state senator Maggie Hassan easily became the second woman elected as New Hampshire’s governor when she beat Republican Ovide Lamontagne 338,231 votes to his 267,777.
The seat was open after the retirement of four-term Gov. John Lynch (D). Hassan’s victory blew off the pundits, who had forecast a tight race with Lamontagne.
I find it interesting that the Manchester Union newspaper describes Hassan as “a 54-year-old attorney, wife, mother of two and former state Senate majority leader,” while her opponent, Lamontagne, is simply “a 55-year-old Manchester attorney and Republican stalwart” who’s “lost his fourth bid for high public office in the state in the past 20 years.” Is he married? A father?
Do we talk about marital status and parenthood for just female candidates or all candidates? Is such information relevant to either one?
We’re not there yet, but we’ve come a long way since the days of Grover’s Corners, the fictitious community of Thornton Wilder’s iconic play “Our Town,” during which the Stage Manager describes the local government, saying, “We’re run here by a Board of Selectman.”
“All males vote at the age of twenty-one,” he adds. “Women vote indirect.”
Diana Reese is a freelance journalist in Kansas City. Follow her on Twitter @dianareese.